Career Planning

Placement Information

A list of recent placements can be found here.

Dossier Service

Doctoral students are advised to register online for the dossier service early in their graduate studies; reference letters may be used for fellowship and job market applications. Online registration for the Dossier Service is available. Students should provide the advisor and committee members with a copy of the application letter and curriculum vitae when requesting reference letters, and will need to furnish the dossier service with the appropriate waivers to ensure their confidentiality.

Department’s Online Placement List

Advanced graduate students who are planning to enter the job market in the upcoming academic year should email the graduate coordinator with the following: a brief academic profile, current curriculum vitae, dissertation title and abstract, contact information, and any other relevant information. Once provided, students will be given a personalized placement home page on the History Department’s website to which they can refer potential employers.

Job Notices

Most jobs are advertised in Perspectives, the American Historical Association (AHA) newsletter, and job postings are made in advance on their website. Job notices sent to the department, especially those for one-year replacement positions in the Boston area, are posted on the Graduate Resources bulletin board. Also, “The Harvard Guide to Postdoctoral Fellowships” is available free of charge from the Fellowships Office in Holyoke Center.

Academic Positions

The search process typically proceeds in three stages: the submission of application materials, a short interview at a conference (usually at the annual AHA conference in January), and an on-campus interview. In these stages, students are attempting to convince the hiring committee, often without very specific information at their disposal, of the suitability of their skills for the job. Students should have a short summary of their dissertation in mind, so that they can describe it accurately and concisely in a short interview. Avoid obviously contentious issues about the graduate program. Most of all, students should attempt to convey their interest and enthusiasm for the research and teaching they have done and would do if selected.

Non-Academic Positions

The appeal of pursuing non-academic opportunities and the interest in PhD students by employers has increased. Consulting firms have programs designed to attract Ph.D. students. Social sciences and humanities alumni have entered professions like educational program evaluation, non-profit arts organizations, computer linguistics, business consulting, publishing, international development, public relations and business communication. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has a program to establish contacts between potential employers and those who hold a doctorate in the social sciences. There are also many opportunities through the Office of Career Services to gain information about non-academic careers and to attend presentations by potential employers. They include workshops where Graduate School alumni speak on how they entered other career paths, and sessions on how to translate academic skills into experience and training that will appeal to potential employers.